Give God the Glory

Photo by Matt Jastram

You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth. Deuteronomy 8:17-18a

The house was crowded with people celebrating the upcoming wedding of my dear friend’s son. Excitement and joy filled the air as the noise of happy chatter bounced about the room.

I was visiting with a couple that had attended one of my summer, young adult Bible studies, when the topic of “Giving thanks to God” came up.

Trevor was sharing that after graduating from college and holding down a somewhat boring job, he had just applied for the job of his dreams and got it.

I was thrilled for him, and said, “Praise the Lord! You must be so thankful to God for this amazing opportunity!”

Calmly and with all seriousness, he said, “No, why should I be? I was the one that worked my tail off at college, I was the one that toiled through monotonous tasks at my last job and I was the one that applied for this new job. God had nothing to do with it.”

I tried to contain my shock as I shut my gaping mouth. The ignorance of that statement, from someone that believed in God (but not Jesus) left me speechless (for a moment).

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights. James 1:17a

I replied, “That is not true. God has everything to do with your blessings. He was the one that gave you a brain that understands how the mechanic of things work, He was the one that gave you the ability and energy to go to school and hold down a job, and He was the one that opened doors for you to even apply for this new job. Whether you believe that or not, it doesn’t matter, it’s still truth. Give God the glory and the thanks He deserves.”

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, we praise you for the hundreds of good gifts you have given us. Help us to be a thankful and grateful people and to give you the glory and praise that you deserve. We love you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

True Paradise

Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.” Revelation 21:3-4

The sun was warm, the sky a soft cornflower blue and the ocean sparkled with a thousand diamonds. I dug my toes into the sand and embraced the beauty and peace around me. Oh, I thought, “If only I could stay here forever, that would be paradise.”

But as I sat there gazing at the swaying, dancing ocean, I wanted to be there. I wanted to experience firsthand, the feel of the water on my skin, and the buoyancy of the sea as I floated upon it. So I rose from my sandy paradise to walk into the breaking surf.

After acclimating to the water temperature and pushing through the rolling waves, I found myself swimming in the sparkling diamonds I had observed from the beach. It was glorious! I thought, “If only I could stay here forever, that would be paradise!”

But as I lay relaxing in the gently rocking ocean, my mind began to wander, with the rumbles of my tummy:  teriyaki chicken, grilled shrimp, and sautéed mushrooms came to mind. My peaceful floating paradise wasn’t enough, I wanted more. I saw the Hula Grill in my mind, nestled close to the beach with their big grass umbrellas and live music and suddenly I was no longer content. I began to swim back to shore.

As I swam, I pondered my fickled musings. Why was I not content? Was there a true paradise somewhere for me? As the answer to my question glided gently into my mind, I smiled with anticipation.

Of course we will never be fully in paradise until we see Jesus face-to-face. All these beautiful moments on earth are just a glimpse, a feeling, a taste of what heaven will be like.

And when we arrive and stand before the Lord, we will say, “Now this is truly paradise, if only I could stay here forever”, and Jesus will say, “You will! Welcome to paradise.”

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, how we long for paradise with you. Thank you for the moments on earth that show us a peek of what heaven will be like. Help us continue to pursue a deeper relationship with you that will make paradise all the sweeter. We love you Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

For further reading: Revelation 21

Powerful Almighty Creator

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Matthew 24:44

We watched a group of Robins outside the kitchen window hopping here and there. They were everywhere! Several were in the grass while others were on the patio. The rain had just fallen and one plump orange Robin drank from the basketball platform.

The sun came out from behind the clouds and the wet grass glistened as it reflected the sunlight. In fact, anything that could reflect the sun did so with excellence! Even the old metal bumper on the truck outside brightly sparkled reflecting the powerful sun.

No matter our age, race, gender or circumstances, if you love the Lord, honor Him by sharing Him with others today. For we do not know when Jesus will return, so therefore, shine in a way that reflects God’s love and opens the doors to communication with those who may not know their Powerful Almighty Creator.

Prayer: Dear Lord, we know that you will return and we pray that we will be ready and we rejoice in being with you one day. Please help us to be courageous to share you and your Word with others today. In Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

For further reading: Matthew 5 & 24

It’s a Win-Win With Jesus

We are confident, I say and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8

Bill could hear his phone ringing in the other room and he berated himself for leaving it there. He pushed himself off the sofa, disentangled his oxygen line and ambled into the kitchen to grab his cell phone.

It was the University of Washington medical center, Bill had been matched with a donor for new lungs.

My husband and I were arriving at the Portland International airport after a short vacation. As we touched down and began to taxi to the gate, I turned my cell phone back on and was immediately hit with multiple messages and texts. I turned to my husband with tears in my eyes and said, “Bill is on the way to the hospital to get his new lungs!”

We were both overjoyed to hear this news. Our brother-in-law had been struggling with pulmonary fibrosis for four years and we knew time was running out. Life had become increasingly difficult and exhausting for him, but through it all he never complained. He was always so positive and happy. Fully trusting the Lord with every moment of his life.

As soon as we picked up our luggage and got in the car, we called him. He and my sister were driving up to Seattle as fast as they safely could. With a lung transplant, there are no guarantees, we knew we could possibly lose Bill on the operating table. We told him how much we loved him and what a blessing he had been in our lives and in our children’s lives.

He humbly thanked us and said, “I’m looking at this as a win-win situation. If I die during surgery, I will be with Jesus, or if I successfully get new lungs, I will have a few more years on earth to love on my family. It’s a win-win.

Needless to say our tears were freely flowing.

Bill’s surgery was unsuccessful. The surgeon declared the donor lungs not viable at the last minute and canceled the procedure. We continue to pray for new lungs but in the meantime we seek to follow Bill’s example and wait and trust in God for every situation in our lives. Knowing that He works out all things for our good, even death.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your presence and peace in all situations. Help us be people of confident faith and steadfast hope in you, that we can encourage others, that life is always a win-win with you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

For further reading: 2 Corinthians 5

God Loves You

“As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him” (2 Samuel 22:31).

My poor little boy was outside playing when he fell and scraped his knee. The blood was flowing down his leg and there was dirt and little tiny pieces of gravel embedded into his open sore. I scooped him up and brought him inside to clean up his knee. But he kept saying, ”No Mama, it hurts!” As I comforted him, I said, ”We have to get it cleaned out or it will get worse.” Once it was cleaned and Neosporin and bandages were placed over it, I prayed for healing and for the pain to go away. While hugging and kissing my son, I told him that it will be OK. His wound will heal.

Sometimes wounds are open and you can see what has happened. Other times wounds are hidden beneath the surface and you don’t know what’s going on. How many people are walking around with the worst wound of all? A broken heart? A wounded spirit? An unsaved soul. They need to take refuge in the One who shields.

If you saw someone bleeding, you’d rush up to them, assess the situation to help and comfort them. You’d find bandages, a way to wash the wound, apply medicine, and dress it. What if we start assuming that people around us are wounded and that they need to be assessed. Ask them if they know Jesus. Tell them how much God loves them, gave his only Son to die for them, and if they believe in their heart they shall be saved (John 3:16). Their soul will be healed. Just think, healing for so many can begin with a loving conversation!!!

Prayer: Loving Father, you know all of our wounds. You see every hurt, every pain. We bring them before you taking refuge and ask for healing and for opportunities to help others. We love you and thank you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

For further reading: John 3

The Storms of Our Life

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (ESV) Isaiah 41:10

A winter weather warning of a big snow storm was forecast for our area. 8 to 12 inches of snow was expected over the next several days. We hurried to the grocery store to lay in supplies, and gathered our puzzles and games to prepare to hunker down at home for the duration of the storm.

The temperature dropped, the clouds rolled in, but instead of snow we got rain, heavy brutal freezing rain. This was not what we were expecting!

The trees and bushes began to sag and bend with the weight of the ice. We could hear limbs breaking off and crashing to the ground throughout our neighborhood. We bundled up and armed with plastic, rope and poles, headed outside to help our trees. We covered our arborvitae and tied them together to protect them. Then used ladders and painters poles to help support some of the heavy branches on the trees. The storm was not over yet, but with the added supports I think our landscape will be able to withstand the icy conditions.

But what about us?

How do we withstand the storms of life?

At times I feel the weight of my burdens pulling me down. So heavy are they, I think surely I will break. And then something happens; I seek the Lord’s help, my husband prays for me or I am reminded of the Lords great love and sacrifice for me, and I am strengthened to withstand the storm.

Do you think the Lord would leave us in our struggles? Abandon us in our pain? Never! The Lord tells us “I will never leave you or for sake you” (Joshua 1:15). The Lord is with us in the storms, it is He that covers us, He that binds us and He that holds us together. It is the Lord that supports us when our burdens weigh us down.

So when the storms of life come and they will, look to the Lord. He is with us and He will sustain us in our toughest moments.

Prayer: Our Father, how we love you. Thank you for your supportive hand in the storms of our life. Encourage us to trust you and to lean fully on you when we are at our weakest. For truly Lord, in reality we are always weak. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

For further reading: Joshua 1

Hidden Sin

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. Luke 12:2-3

My family and I were enjoying dinner together at an Applebee’s restaurant when the Lord brought home the meaning of Luke 12:2.

After consuming our delicious entrées we decided we would all split a mud pie for dessert. When the waiter returned with our ice cream and chocolate delicacy, he gently laid it on the table, gave us all spoons and with a big smile told us to “Enjoy”. We mumbled our thanks, as we locked eyes with each other, for smeared across one corner of his mouth was our chocolate delicacy.

He then moved to the booth next to ours, to see how they were doing and one of the guests pointed out to him that he had chocolate on his face. He reached up to wipe the offending substance away, while taking a quick glance at our table to check our reactions. Not wanting to embarrass him, we kept our eyes down, but after he left, we had quite the chuckle.

We like to think other people won’t discover our secrets and with technology today it’s easier than ever to hide our misdeeds. Smart phones, computers, and TVs enable us to live double lives. Who really knows what is going on behind closed doors?

The Lord knows.

There is nothing that is concealed from Him. And someday God will bring to light all our hidden deeds.

You may be sure that your sin will find you out.” Numbers 32:23

Don’t wait to be found with mud on your face. Confess and repent of your transgressions today. Live a life that is open and honest before God and man.

Prayer: O Lord Almighty, you know us so well. You know our inner struggles and darkness, and still, you love us and offer us redemption and forgiveness. Sear our conscience, reveal our guilt and help us walk with integrity before you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

For further reading: Luke 12

I Hold on and Don’t Let Go

“Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.” John 6:37-38 (MSG)

“This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time.” John 6:40 (MSG)

I remember when my twin sons were around two years old and one of their favorite pastime activities was to grab ahold of either my leg or my husband’s. We would walk into the room and both would come padding swiftly across the floor in their cute little footed fuzzy onesie pajamas and hang on to our leg as we attempted to walk across the floor. They would hold on with a grasp that could not be unclasped. They would not let go unless we reached down to pick them up. Sometimes, we would have a boy on each leg, or one on a leg and the other in our arms. When we would set them down on their feet, they’d say, “Again, again!” Such special memories!

Today, my sons are both over six foot tall and no longer wear those adorable footed onesie pajamas! Nor, do they grab hold of our legs to catch a ride anymore. Sadly, I can no longer hold them up in my arms, but I do delight in their hugs and who they have become!

The delight we have in our own children is just a fraction of the delight Jesus has for us who have trusted Him. When we run to Him, He tightly grasps each of us, lifts us up and will not let a single one of us go! He will embrace you fully only to set you down beside Him at His throne in our heavenly home when the time has come.

Prayer: My God, how I thank You for not only sending Your Son down from heaven to accept those of us who believe in Him and choose to run to Him; but that He eagerly holds us in His loving arms and will bring us home some day to be with You! Oh what a day that will be! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

For Further Reading: John 6

Do Not Worry About Tomorrow

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

Our country is at the height of chaos and confusion right now. Citizens have become polarized. Violence and riots are now a way of life in many cities and even the White House was attacked. Where will all this end? What’s coming next?

I’m so anxious and stressed all the time. I have constant neck aches and headaches. What should I be doing? How can I prepare for what’s coming?

I was talking to my son about my stress and he reminded me to trust our Heavenly Father. He said when he takes my granddaughter to the store, she is not nervous and afraid of what might happen along the way. Even though car accidents are a real possibility, she is at peace, knowing her father is on the lookout for any dangers or bad drivers ahead. She completely trust her father to get her to the store, and if there are problems along the way, her father will take care of them.

This simple comparison brought tears to my eyes. Our Heavenly Father loves His children, but He does not reveal everything that might happen to us in the future. He knows it will only make us anxious and afraid.

He asks us to trust Him. He will get us safely to our final destination, which is Heaven. And when the trials and car accidents happen, (because they will along the way), He will be there to guide us through them.

“Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed, preserving them forever from this lying generation, even though the wicked strut about, and evil is praised throughout the land.” Psalm 12:7–8 NLT

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for keeping the details of the future a mystery. Help us trust you each day to provide the strength and wisdom we need as we meet new challenges. We love you Lord. In Jesus name. Amen. 

For further reading: Matthew 6

Encourage Each Other

encourage each other

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:11–12

Life is challenging! Need I say more? It seems as if each day has new struggles of its own, and they begin to stack up, one upon the other, like unstable building blocks. Until it comes to the point, we are just holding our breath, waiting for those blocks to come tumbling down around our heads.

Why can’t I do more? Why did I lose my temper? Do my efforts even make a difference? Paul the writer of the book of Romans, wants to impart the believers in Rome with a spiritual gift, and that gift that makes them strong, is simply sharing their faith with each other.

I recently received an email from a dear friend, she shared her busy and beautiful life with me, but I could sense the building blocks were beginning to sway. So, I shared my faith with her. I encouraged her to let go of her expectations and to rejoice in the Lord that loves us, right where we are. Her efforts did make a difference. We all need to let go of the “should have” and “what if’s” and embrace the forgiveness and love of Christ.

She in turn, encouraged me through her faith.

When will we come to terms with the truth? God did not make us to stand alone, He made us to be in community with each other. Hence, all believers are together called the body of Christ. Step back, let go; allow those building blocks to fall. We don’t have to live the perfect life, when we know we are perfectly forgiven. Encourage each other. We all need to hear it from time to time.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the encouragement we receive from you every day in your Word. Thank you for your constant love and forgiveness of us. Help us in turn to encourage and love others. In Jesus’ name. Amen

For further reading: Romans 1